Creating an Environment that Promotes Vulnerability

In our previous post, we focused on changing our perspective as caregivers from “taking away” to “adding in.” It was noted that a shift from deciding what to remove from our children's and teens' lives to thinking about what to add to their daily routine may have a larger impact on their overall wellness. As promised, we will spend our next few blog posts identifying tangible ways to incorporate the seven researched Positive Childhood Experiences (PCEs).


Today’s blog post will focus on the first two PCEs including the teen’s ability to talk to their family about their feelings and the teen feeling supported by the family in difficult times. The application of these two PCEs comes with the practice of validation. Please see THIS POST that will walk you through the basics of validation and provide concrete examples of validating statements.


In summary, validation is how we ensure our teens know that they are supported in their experience - whatever that experience is. When we validate our teens, we help them feel understood, and this simple understanding can help the teen experience a sense of relief. We ensure our teens feel comfortable talking about their feelings when we move away from “Oh, that is no big deal; it will all work out.” to “Wow - that sounds really hard.” I cannot emphasize enough the power of validation with your child and teen.


Here are a few other ways to ensure your teen feels they can talk to their family about their feelings and that they are supported:

  1. Validate them. (Did I repeat? I know! It is just so important!)

  2. Put down your device, and give them your full attention.

  3. Model by sharing your own feelings (This can be difficult - check out this post for a graphic to help you identify exactly how you are feeling, and let your teen use this same graphic!)

  4. Check in with your child/teen periodically.

  5. Understand that your teen and/or child may choose to share at what seems like the most random of times, and this may be because they are not forced to sit with consistent eye contact (which can be threatening when they are sharing something vulnerable). Accept that your most intimate conversations may be while you are driving them to sports practice or folding laundry. Lean into their timing. It is understandable that sometimes that timing may be inconvenient or even impossible. In those moments - VALIDATE your child’s desire to share and together choose a time that works for everyone. For example, “I see you are having a tough time and that must be really hard. Right now I’m stepping into a PTA meeting and cannot give you the attention that I want to give you. How about we take a drive for some ice cream tonight after dinner, and you can tell me about it?”

These suggestions may seem simple enough but can be difficult as we all juggle work, school, homework, sports, church, and other commitments. The suggestions are basic because they can be woven into the most ordinary, everyday moments. Like any other skill, the more these are practiced, the more easily they become a part of your daily routine and increase your own child’s exposure to PCEs.


If you or a loved one has any questions or would like a free 15-minute consultation about implementing any of these strategies in your home, please do not hesitate to contact KS Services at counseling@keystoneservices.biz


Laura Waller, MS

Licensed Resident in Counseling




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